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An Ecosystem For Growing Your Own Veggies At Home And Indoors

A pair of German designers introduce the Parasite Farm, an indoor gardening system that feeds off your waste.

Food accounts for about 13 percent of trash in the United States, the third-largest component behind paper and yard trimmings. Although composting may be the natural extension of recycling paper, metal, and plastic, many urbanites don’t have access to outdoor space or the stomach for composting in their kitchen. Two young German designers have turned indoor composting into a viable option, with an ingenious ecosystem for converting vegetable scraps into soil, which is then used to grow—you guessed it—more veggies.

Charlotte Dieckmann and Nils Ferber’s Parasite Farm (surely not the most appetizing of names) includes a compost bin with a built-in chopping-board lid that can be mounted onto a kitchen table, as well as planters designed to fit into an ordinary bookshelf. Here’s how it works: Once you’re done cutting up your vegetables, simply slide the trimmings into the bin, where worms process them into humus. To harvest the soil, simply shake the grate at the bottom and pull out the drawer underneath; residual water is siphoned into a separate translucent tank for use as liquid fertilizer. Load up your bookshelf planters with soil and seeds, install some grow lights above, and you’ve got a mini farm powered by your own waste.

The system is an alternative to tricky hydroponic gardening, albeit a slower yielding and messier one (ick, worms!). Ferber tells Co.Design that he’s looking for a partner to produce the concept, which, after several months of testing, is "working well."

[Photos by Alexander Giesemann]

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  • Laszlo Ideogli

    Wow! It looks like it doesn't smell bad at all! And so space saving! I'd love to chop my fresh vegetables right on top of a heap of decomposing organic matter. Gut gemacht!

  • Allison Joi Burgueno

    Great idea. Compost should not stink and if done correctly doesn't stink. But you'd need solar panels to make this eco-viable.

  • Rob

    practically, that composte is going to smell bad and i'm not sure it works in the kitchen.

  • NAT1972

    "... install some grow
    lights above, and you’ve got a mini farm powered by your own waste." ... and using plenty of electricity likely from coal fired generators.

  • Hassib Jordán

    I think this is the best idea yet for sustainability!! great job, hope one day i can see this in my kitchen.